After weeks of relative calm following Mexico’s July 1 presidential elections, gangsters have unleashed havoc once again across much of Mexico.
Gunmen massacred eight people in a downtown Monterrey strip club before dawn Tuesday, the latest in a string of gangland atrocities sweeping northern Mexico in the past week.
State police and forensic personnel investigate the scene outside the Matehuala bar where a group of gunmen attacked Tuesday in Monterrey City, Nuevo Leon state, Mexico on Tuesday. Seven men were killed and two others were wounded. More than 40,000 people have been killed in Mexico since December 2006 when President Felipe Calderon deployed soldiers and federal police to take on organized crime.
The slaughter at the Matehuala bar — officials said the victims were apparently employees of the joint — follows the weekend gangland execution of the mayor-elect of Matehuala in San Luis Potosi state, a crossroads town on the Pan American highway that in more innocent times was a popular stopover for Texans driving to San Miguel Allende and other central Mexico destinations.
Officials investigate the Tuesday pre-dawn attack at the Matehuala bar in Monterrey City, Mexico
Edgar Morales Perez, 39, was gunned down along with his campaign manager, as they left a family gathering about 2 a.m. Sunday. His killing followed those last Friday of at least 21 people — 14 of them apparent residents of the border state of Coahuila whose bodies were left abandoned in a sport utility vehicle outside the city of San Luis Potosi, the state capital.
State Prosecutor Miguel Angel Garcia called for federal reinforcements in a Monday press conference. He said the surge in violence appeared to result from a growing feud between factions of the Zetas criminal gang, which is based in Nuevo Laredo and other cities bordering South Texas. Mexican media have been reporting a growing rift between factions loyal to Zetas founder Heriberto Lazcano — El Lazca – and those of Miguel Angel Treviño, Z40.
“The state government is on maximum alert,” Garcia told reporters Monday, “with all the human resources necessary to assure the safety of citizens and avoid at all costs that the criminal groups gain a foothold.”
In fact, the Zetas have been active in San Luis Potosi for years. Zetas gunmen ambushed two U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents on the Pan American Highway in February 2011, killing Brownsville native Jaime Zapata and wounding fellow Victor Avila.
Heightened violence in the past week has also battered western Zacatecas state, which in recent years has become a Zetas fiefdom.
A Zetas civil war would further worsen the violence battering many parts of northern and northeastern Mexico. The Zetas already are warring against the Gulf Cartel, their former paymasters also based on the South Texas border, who have reported allied with the s0-called Pacific Federation of Sinaloan kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.
The groups have been going at one another for months now in Nuevo Laredo, Veracruz, Monterrey and other disputed cities. In addition, Mexican marines and other federal forces have increased their pressure on the Zetas.
Heightened violence in the past week has also battered western Zacatecas state, which in recent years has become a Zetas fiefdom, with soldiers killing four suspected gangsters Monday near the city of Fresnillo, the state’s second largest.
Other rival gangs are also battling in central Michoacan and Guanajuato states, where a number of gasoline stations, presumably belonging to gang bosses, have been attacked and burned.
Peña Nieto, who will take office December 1, has vowed to rework Mexico’s anti-gangster strategy, bringing peace by concentrating federal efforts on murder, kidnapping and extortion that most affects ordinary citizens. This months violence might suggest that those plans are wishful thinking.